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SSO begins liquidation process

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CNY/NNY/S. Tier: SSO begins liquidation process
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A sour note for the local arts and cultural community as legal proceedings begin in the bankruptcy and liquidation of Syracuse's symphony orchestra. YNN's Bill Carey says a federal trustee has met with those who had a stake in the orchestra's future.

SYRACUSE, N.Y. -- For 50 years, it had entertained audiences across central New York. Now, owing more than $4 million and holding assets of less than half a million, the final notes of the Syracuse Symphony Orchestra are being sounded in a bankruptcy court.

Creditors ranging from vendors to ticket holders gathered with a federal trustee to hear just what went wrong. The man who had the job of trying to save the orchestra in its final days came face to face with those with claims against the SSO.

"The truth of the matter is, there's nothing you can say that would really make them feel much better other than thank them for all of their support and their dedication to the symphony over the years," said SSO Interim Executive Director Paul Brooks.

There is still bitterness over the sudden decision in April to end fundraising efforts and suspend operations.

"There is little doubt that we suffered from a vacuum of leadership and professional management. It cost the community its orchestra," said Phillip MacArthur of the American Federation of Musicians Local 78.

M&T Bank, which had its lawyer at the meeting, is the only group with a secured claim for just over half a million dollars.

While there may be other claims filed against the orchestra by creditors, it is unlikely any of those other creditors will see any satisfaction. Much will depend on M&T's hearing on its claim, a hearing scheduled for July.

"I'm sure once that's decided, it will be fairly obvious whether there's going to be anything for me to do or not," said Federal Bankruptcy Trustee Mary Fangio.

The hearing began the process of dismantling what is left of the Syracuse Symphony.

"It's a sad day. It's a sad day for everybody because the orchestra is very important to the community," Brooks said.

What will not be answered in court is whether the orchestra, in some new form, might be ready to make a comeback.

Musicians from the SSO have formed what they refer to as a "lifeboat" organization called Symphony Syracuse. That group will be offering concerts during the summer season.

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